We are at the edge of a new era of construction, manufacturing, building operation, and connected design. Digitization of information and connectivity between things, places, and people, also called the Internet of Things, drives this era.
It is my pleasure to indicate the engineering trends that will arise from this connectivity era and how they will affect the design and construction of structures over the next decade.
-The new structural systems and materials that will emerge will be sustainable, adaptive, connected and smart. Examples are 3D printed nano-structures, self-healing concrete and structural systems that will dynamically adapt to environmental changes. A technology developed by SenseQuake involves using smart sensors in buildings. These sensors study the resonance behavior of a structure. That makes building owners and engineers to better predict the structural performance in the event of an earthquake.
-Simple engineering tasks will be automated by self-learning computational methods. These will assist engineers in performing complicated engineering tasks and will empower them to give more high-value services.
-Global work sharing will be the order of the day as cloud infrastructure develops further. This infrastructure will make engineers highly competitive.
-The focus of engineering education will be developing high-value, problem-solving skills. Labor and craft training will involve more manufacturing centric skill sets. You can find out how BIM curriculum will be part of the future apprenticeship programs of the National Institute of Steel Detailing.
-Hyper-connected manufacturing processes will be the case. Buildings that enclose such processes will be optimized for energy efficiency.
-The construction process will transform due to modular construction, lean manufacturing, and machine learning.
-The funding, design, and operation of construction projects will transform because of the sharing economy. That will be possible because of the connectivity of building operations, job site processes, and teams.
The hyper-connectivity of things and people will facilitate a more sustainable and effective production and execution of ideas. Thus, how serious should you take these engineering trends? Are other industry players already preparing for these engineering trends?
Well, let us consider the British Government. Starting in 2016, all British government projects must use BIM (www.gov.uk/bis). Britain’s ‘Construction 2025’ joint strategy lays out this mandate. Players in the UK’s construction sector believe that Smart Construction Methods and Digital Design will give Britain a competitive edge.
In other words, those engineering trends will reduce the cost of building and operating the British infrastructure. It will make Britain more competitive than other economies that are not using those technologies. That success will make other economies to adopt such technologies.
As a fabricator or a structural engineer, what do all these engineering trends mean? How can you begin preparing for them, now or later?